Are you planning to try your luck at catching lobsters but don’t know how to catch lobster? Lobster fishing in California, in other parts of the US, and in Canada is a grueling activity but immensely rewarding. You’ll most definitely have to exert some effort, but you’ll surely be richly rewarded if you just stick to it.
These crustaceans aren’t just delicious, they are fun to catch as well! People from across the globe flock to coastal areas where lobsters populate. San Diego lobster season, in particular, is when more people than ever try learning how to catch California spiny lobster.
For sustainable harvesting and because of strict regulations, spiny and clawed lobsters are abundant along coasts across North America. This means you have lots of opportunities for catching these incredible species!
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Where to Try Lobster Fishing
Learning how to fish for lobster, including California spiny lobster, can be complicated as methods vary. Where to catch lobster will depend on the specific species that you’re after.
The clawed lobster (also commonly referred to as Maine or Atlantic lobster), is usually caught using baited traps that are submerged in water for a long period of time. It’s found in eastern Canada and the Northeastern US.
As for its spiny counterpart (also referred to as rock lobster), it’s found in warm bodies of water across the world but it’s commonly found on the California coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida. It can be caught with the use of a hoop net or by hand.
How to Catch Lobster
This can vary, depending on the tools that are available to you and your personal preferences.
Before you head to the water, you need to make sure you have the right gear. Remember that gear for lobster fishing is highly specific.
Using Lobster Pots (Traps)
For this method, you’ll need lobster pots. The pots are usually rectangular, made of 3 or 4 ft long metal wire. They come with built-in holes for undersized crustaceans to escape. They also have ‘ghost panels’ which disintegrate automatically when they get lost.
The traps are usually heavy, most weighing over 40 lbs. They can be costly, so there are fishermen who attempt to make their own lobster pots. If you look up traps for lobsters online, you’ll find some at a lower cost but you may have to do some digging.
You’ll also need buoys and sinking to secure your lobster pots. A sinking line sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor. It will ensure that any slack stays below the water surface and won’t become a hazard should boats pass through.
The last thing you want is for the propeller of an inflatable pontoon boat to get caught on a line. To compensate for currents and tidal activity, a great rule of thumb would be to use twice the length of the line as the depth of the water you’re fishing in for lobsters.
A buoy has to have a bright color e.g. yellow, red, or orange, so it’s easier to spot from the surface. As lobsters are known to be scavengers, use various baits. The most popular is salted herring, but whatever fish carcass you can get your hands into will work in general.
This kind of bait will be messy, which is why you should use a mesh bag for your bait. The mesh bag will also ensure your bait lasts a lot longer while making it easy for you to bait a lobster pot.
For measuring each catch, use a lobster gauge. Don’t forget heavy-duty gloves so you can protect your hands. A container will also be needed for the storage of your catch.
Diving for Lobsters
You can also dive for your lobsters. If you choose this method, have freediving fins, a mask, and a snorkel. Have your scuba gear ready if you’ll be scuba diving. To coax a lobster that you’ve spotted hiding in its hole, use a tickle stick.
It’s essentially a 3 ft long pole made of aluminum. In order to not get separated from you underwater, it comes with a lanyard for your wrist. It’s highly effective for lobster hiding holes that you can’t access and grab the crustacean by hand.
You can use your tickle stick with a lobster net. There are those that prefer grabbing lobsters by hand. If you’re one of them, then you won’t need the tickle stick and lobster net. Either way, you’ll need a good pair of protective gloves.
You would want to protect both your hands from pokes and stabs when you’re trying to grab the sea bugs. Gloves that are puncture-resistant make for great gloves for lobstering or lobster fishing.
As soon as you get a lobster, you’ll need a place to stash it while you look for more. A mesh catch bag will be your best option for storing your catch on the go. The bag usually features a one-way trap door to keep your lobster secured in it. It also comes with a clip so you can attach it to your belt.
Hoop Netting for Lobsters
A hoop net is another great way to catch the limit on your local area for lobster. The trap is basically two concentric rings that have a mesh fishing net in between them.
If you deploy it on the bottom of the ocean floor, it lies totally flat. This allows lobsters that are nearby to walk into the trap directly so they can feed on the bait.
Before you get too excited to catch lobsters, make sure you have the appropriate licenses and permits first. Also, remember that you need to consume lobsters within 24 to 36 hours after they are removed from the water.
Just like other shellfish, as soon as they are dead, their bodies start decomposing at a quick pace. You would want to cook them before they start spoiling! If you want to freeze the meat, remove the claws and tails.